Nutritionists get the question all the time: Can drinking apple cider vinegar help with weight loss? But think about it for a sec: If chugging ACV daily and magically dropping two sizes sounds like BS, well, that’s because it is.
Sure, if you’re using ACV to replace a calorie-bomb condiment like mayo, then it might help you lose ~some~ weight, says Leslie Bonci, RD, the owner of Active Eating Advice. But that’s the case with any vinegar, not just apple cider.
“Apple cider vinegar is not this magical elixir that’s going to solve all of our problems,” says Amanda Baker Lemein, RD. There’s not much in the way of actual evidence that ACV comes with any of the major health perks that some celebs (cough Kourtney Kardashian cough) swear they’ve experienced by drinking it.
While consuming ACV has been touted as a positive health practice that can aid weight loss, regulate blood sugar, and lower cholesterol, it also can cause serious digestive distress in some, says Eliza Savage, RD.
If you still insist on seeing what all the buzz is about, adding a daily dose of ACV to your diet probably isn’t dangerous. Here’s what you can (and can’t) expect to happen to your bod according to three registered dietitians.
You could have serious stomach issues
“Because vinegar is acidic, some people don’t tolerate it all that well,” says Bonci. Not everyone will experience this, but if you have ulcerative colitis, inflammation in your digestive tract, or are just prone to stomach aches, you’ll probably want to steer clear.
The bottom line: Bonci says vinegar — any vinegar — is a great option for adding flavor to food without skewing its caloric value. But it’s not a magic potion—so don’t expect a major transformation.
You could experience uncomfortable bloating
If you bloat during your period, then you know just how uncomfortable a swollen tummy can feel. And if you’re not a fan, then the ACV diet might not be for you.
“Consuming apple cider vinegar delays stomach emptying,” says Savage. This reduces the rate at which food leaves the stomach and enters the lower digestive tract, meaning you’ll feel fuller longer. At times delayed stomach emptying can cause temporary weight loss, Savage says. But it can also cause some serious bloating, gas and nausea. 10/10 would not recommend.
“A healthier diet alternative would be to increase water intake and choose more high fiber non-starchy vegetables,” says Savage.
You may feel extremely weak
At the risk of sounding painfully obvious here, if you try to subsist mainly on ACV drinks, you’re going to get too few calories to function. “It really creates that sense of imbalance, big time,” says Bonci.
If you want to start consuming more ACV, Bonci suggests instead of having vinegar as part of a meal that also incorporates vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates, ideally as a replacement for a heavier dressing or seasoning.
That way, your body will still get the fuel it needs—and you’ll save yourself a few unnecessary calories in the process.
Your appetite might actually increase
Word on the street is that ACV is an appetite suppressant (FWIW, our writer who tried drinking it daily reported that she didn’t notice a change in how hungry she was). In fact, Bonci says people who drink a lot of diluted ACV might actually end up hungrier because vinegar is so low-cal.
“You feel full for the moment that you’re having it, because you’ve just consumed a gallon of water, but when you pee that out, you’re going to be hungrier, sooner,” she says.